ALBANY — In lieu of its annual Veteran’s Day event, the To Honor and Serve Breakfast, the Capital Region Chamber’s Unified Military Affairs Council (UMAC) has recognized the significance of the region’s military installations and growing ranks of active-duty service members in the regional economy.
The Chamber recognizes and supports our area military throughout the year through the UMAC. This council includes the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing; Naval Support Activity Saratoga Springs; Nuclear Power Training Unit Ballston Spa; Watervliet Arsenal; U.S. Army – Albany Recruiting Company and Navy Reserve Center Schenectady.
The Capital Region labor force consists of more than 2,400 active-duty service members – that is the third greatest number in upstate, according to the latest Census estimates. In fact, between 2015 and 2019, the region’s labor force saw an increase of 293 active-duty service members – the largest increase in upstate. Saratoga County saw upstate’s fifth largest increase in active-duty service members from 72 to 1,647. Saratoga County also has the state’s third greatest number of active-duty service members, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau five-year estimates.
Leaders from the Chamber, UMAC, 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard and Navy Reserve Center Schenectady also highlighted how local military installations have served not only as assets to national security but also to the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
For instance, the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York National Guard provided COVID testing and meal delivery services in the Capital Region. Stratton Air Base in Glenville also served as a vaccination site for Department of Defense personnel and contractors. The Watervliet Arsenal last December became one of DOD’s first vaccination sites for military personnel and defense contractors. In the 2021 federal fiscal year, there were about 300 firms with defense contracts in the Capital Region, according to a CEG analysis of USAspending.gov data.
“We’re out there on the front lines to help mitigate the horrible thing that COVID is, and we’re all dealing with it. But as essential workers, we’re happy to step up and be able to do that successfully, because honestly, it gets everyone back into the businesses to be able to support what they do for our local economy,” said Col. Robert Donaldson, the 109th Airlift’s Vice Commander.
“Defense is a major industry in the Capital Region’s economy – one larger than many realize,” said Chamber President and CEO Mark Eagan. “While the focus of Veteran’s Day is often on those who have served, it’s important that we also recognize those who are presently serving our country.”